Roland SP-404


Electronic sampler
Developed Roland 2005

The Roland SP-404 is a discontinued sampling workstation made by Roland Corporation. Part of the SP family and picking up where Roland’s popular SP-303 sampler left off. With the ability to record audio directly via line/mic, or import/export industry-standard WAV and AIF files via CompactFlash card. An onboard pattern sequencer allows up to 8,000 notes to be recorded in real time. Pattern data can be quantized and up to 24 patterns, each 1–99 measures long, can be stored in the internal memory. Using a 1GB CompactFlash card, sampling times can be as long as approximately 772 minutes in Lo-Fi mode, or up to 386 minutes long in Standard mode.


The SP-404 features:

Quick Operation Guide

Purpose Operation
Play a samplePad [1]–[12]
Play an external input sound[EXT SOURCE]
Mono/stereo setting for external input[EXT SOURCE] –> [STEREO]
Sampling[REC] –> Pad [1]–[12] –> [REC]
Specify auto sampling[CANCEL] + [REC] –> CTRL 3 (LEVEL) knob –> [REC]
Defeat auto sampling[CANCEL] + [REC] –> turn CTRL 3 (LEVEL) knob to the far left –> [REC]
Resampling[RESAMPLE] –> CTRL 3 (LEVEL) knob –> [REC] –> Pads [1]–[12] –> [REC] –> Pads [1]–[12]
Delete individual samples[DEL] –> Pad [1]–[12] –> [DEL]
Delete all samples[CANCEL] + [DEL] –> BANK [A]–[F/J] –> [DEL]
Set the volume of a samplePad [1]–[12] –> [START/END/LEVEL] –> CTRL 3 (LEVEL) knob
Set start pointPad [1]–[12] –> [MARK] –> press pad [1]–[12] once again to stop sound
Set end point[MARK] + pad [1]–[12] –> [MARK]
Set start/end pointsPad [1]–[12] –> [MARK] –> [MARK]
Adjust start/end pointsPad [1]–[12] –> [START/END/LEVEL] –> CTRL 1 (START) knob / CTRL 2 (END) knob
Time Modify settingPad [1]–[12] –> [TIME/BPM] –> CTRL 1 (TIME) knob
Exchange samples between pads[DEL] + [REC] –> specify source pad –> specify destination pad –> [REC]
Save backup[CANCEL] + BANK [C/G]–[F/J] –> press pad [1]–[12] to specify an area –> [REC]
Load backup[CANCEL] + BANK [A] or [B] –> press pad [1]–[12] to specify the area –> [REC]
View remaining sampling time[REMAIN]
Select MFX type (knob-method) Hold down [MFX] and turn CTRL 3/MFX knob (MFX types 1–24)
Select MFX type (button-method) [MFX] + pad [1]–[12] (MFX types 1–12)
Select MFX type (button-method) [MFX] + [VINYL SIM] + pad [1]–[12] (MFX types 13–24)
Specify effect send[REMAIN] + pad [1]–[12]
Effect send for all samples[REMAIN] + effect button
Effect grab[TAP TEMPO] + effect button
Play pattern[PATTERN SELECT] –> pad [1]–[12]
Stop pattern (1)[CANCEL]
Stop pattern (2)[PATTERN SELECT] –> pad of currently playing pattern
Record a pattern[PATTERN SELECT] –> [REC] –> pad [1]–[12] –> [CANCEL]
Specify pattern tempo (1)[PATTERN SELECT] –> [TIME/BPM] –> CTRL 2 (BPM) knob
Specify pattern tempo (2)[PATTERN SELECT] –> press [TAP TEMPO] several times
Quantize settingWhile recording a pattern or in recording standby, [QUANTIZE] –> CTRL 3 knob
Specify pattern lengthIn standby mode, [LENGTH] –> CTRL 3 knob
Metronome volume settingWhile recording a pattern or in recording standby, [START/END/LEVEL] –> CTRL 3 (LEVEL) knob
Rehearse pattern recordingDuring pattern recording, [REC]
Delete recorded notesDuring pattern recording, [DEL] –> pad [1]–[12]
Exchange patterns between pads[PATTERN SELECT] –> [DEL] + [REC] –> pad [1]–[12] –> pad [1]–[12] –> [REC]
Delete individual pattern[PATTERN SELECT] –> [DEL] –> pad [1]–[12] –> [DEL]
Delete all patterns[PATTERN SELECT] –> [CANCEL] + [DEL] –> BANK [A]–[F/J] –> [DEL]
Specify MIDI channel

Pad [1]–[12] + Switch ON power (Ch 1–12)
[HOLD] + Switch ON power (Ch 13)
[EXT SOURCE] + Switch ON power (Ch 14)
[SUB PAD] + Switch ON power (Ch 15)

MIDI synchronization mode setting[TIME/BPM] + Switch ON power –> CTRL 1 (TIME) knob –> [TIME/BPM]
Initialize internal memory[CANCEL] + [DEL] + [REMAIN] + Switch ON power
Turn off Protect[CANCEL] + Switch ON power
Protect a bank A–J[REMAIN] + Switch ON power
Protect bank A[REMAIN] + BANK [A] + Switch ON power
Format memory card[CANCEL] + [REMAIN] –> BANK [C/G]–[F/J] –> [DEL]
Effect Limit Mode[CANCEL] + [MFX]
Send/Return Mode[CANCEL] + [VINYL SIM]
Set the internal processing level[CANCEL] + [START/END/LEVEL] + CTRL 3 knob


A number of musicians have used either the SP-303 or the SP-404 as part of their production and performance.

These include Jel, Odd Nosdam, Alias, J Dilla, Madlib, MF Doom, Jneiro Jarel, Milo, Flying Lotus, James Blake, Samiyam, Ras G, Teebs, Grimes, Four Tet, Beck Hansen, Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound, Radiohead, Animal Collective, Spindrift, Toro y Moi, Broadcast, John Maus, Ellie Goulding, El Guincho, Illmind, Dibia$e, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Oneohtrix Point Never (Daniel Lopatin), Matt Mondanile of Ducktails and many others.

Jan Linton was hired by Roland in 2005 to produce a promotional European sound card for the SP404.[1]

See also


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